Duty free limits relaxed

Duty Free store representatives at the Owen Roberts International Airport breathed a sigh of relief Saturday when a new solution was reached for selling liquor and perfumes to passengers.

The workable solution was achieved through cross industry co-operation after new U.S. Transportation Security Administration regulations banned carry on liquids on flights after a terror threat last week.

Following lengthy liaisons between Cayman Islands’ Airport Authority staff and the TSA and UK authorities, confirmation was received by the CIAA that restrictions could be gradually relaxed to allow the sale of previously restricted duty free items.

Under the new relaxed restrictions, which commenced on Saturday, items must be delivered directly to the aircraft by the duty-free retailers. Special access to the apron by retailers has been granted for this purpose.

From Thursday, in accordance with TSA regulations, duty free items sold in the departure lounge were not permitted on flights to the US.

Owner of Tortuga Duty Free Liquors, Robert Hamaty said that despite very few liquor sales Thursday and Friday, with the new arrangements on Saturday, business had picked up very well.

‘In fact, yesterday (Sunday) it (business) was quite good,’ he said.

Mr. Hamaty said he believed the situation had been handled very efficiently and everything possible had been done to help the stores. ‘We’re happy,’ he said.

Duty free items sold at the airport have already been screened and checked through customs and security by the time they arrive at the stores in the departures lounges.

The stores which had been affected alongside Tortuga Liquors include Jacques Scott Duty Free, Bodden Freeport, and Kirk Freeport.

Thursday and Friday revenue was well down for these stores because of the restrictions on perfumes, liquors and sauces.

CEO of the CIAA David Frederick confirmed that at the ORIA over the weekend some flights were behind by 25 to 30 minutes, but by Monday morning most flights were reportedly operating on time

Cayman Airways’ Vice President Sales and Marketing Rick Blake said that although implementation day, Thursday, had seen some confusion and delays, over the weekend flights seemed to be running pretty normally.

Mr. Blake commented that at Miami International Airport Sunday certain exceptions were being taken to the medications allowed on board.

‘They were not quite as strict on Sunday as they had been on Thursday,’ he said.

The Transportation Security Administration in the US had previously banned all liquid medications; now it will allow up to four ounces of liquid non-prescription medicine. TSA also said it would let fliers carry on solid lipstick, baby food and low-blood-sugar treatments including glucose gel for diabetics. But it said all aerosols are prohibited.

The British government downgraded its terror threat level from critical to severe Monday while the United States went back to a uniform stance of ‘code orange’, having been raised to ‘code red’ for flights to and from Britain.

The critical level was declared last week when police rounded up 23 people suspected of involvement in a terror plot to bring down transatlantic airliners.

With the reduction in the threat level, the UK Department of Transport said passengers would be allowed to carry a single, briefcase-sized bag aboard aircraft, and that books, laptop computers and iPods would be permitted again. Heathrow and other major airports, however, said they would not adopt the relaxed regulations until today, Tuesday.

Almost one-third of flights out of Heathrow were cancelled on Sunday – the airport handles about 1,250 flights a day.

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